The UK government has confirmed the Royal Navy will join a US-led maritime force to protect merchant ships transiting the Gulf waters.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the new task force would give “reassurance for shipping,” the BBC reported, with the Ministry of Defense saying the HMS Duncan and the HMS Montrose to be assigned to the new mission in addition to aerial surveillance.
Raab added, however, that Britain’s decision to join the US-led mission does not change the UK’s commitment to the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, and said the government is working to “de-escalate the situation” in the Gulf.
In making the announcement of the new mission, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK is “determined to ensure shipping is protected from unlawful threats… Upholding international maritime law and freedom of passage is in all our interests. We are seeing, across our seas and oceans, too many incidents that seek to challenge such freedoms.”
Last month Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval commandos boarded and hijacked the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero while it was transiting the Strait of Hormuz, an international waterway. The Iranians also seized a second vessel, the MV Mesdar, but later released the ship with a warning.